The head of an independent Perthshire school said pupils are behaving better after he introduced a ban on mobile phones.
Glenalmond College last month became the latest educational establishment in Scotland to stop students from using their smartphones during class time.
On Thursday, another Perthshire school – Morrison’s Academy in Crieff – told The Courier that it was bucking the growing global trend and encouraging pupils to use their phones and other digital equipment.
But sub-warden at Glenalmond Gareth O’Neill said his school’s new phone-free environment – which began at the start of the academic year – is already showing positive results.
And he stressed that he is no luddite, having recently spent £130,000 on an upgrade of school’s internet access and kitted out the library with 20 new Chromebooks.
Mr O’Neill said the move was not a kneejerk reaction, but one based on extensive research.
“We have banned phones but this doesn’t mean an eradication of digital technology in lessons, almost the opposite in fact,” he said.
“We are aiming to educate the pupils in a much better and more appropriate use of digital technology to aid their learning.”
Since phones were outlawed, Mr O’Neill said he had seen improvements in behaviour and social interaction. Pupils were concentrating on their school work better, he said.
“Students are improving their social skills by talking and listening to others, which are important skills for life,” said Mr O’Neill.
The phone ban was introduced following concerns that pupils were spending too much time on their devices, which was preventing social interaction.
Although Glenalmond College, founded in 1847, is one of the oldest schools in the country, staff stress that it takes a modern approach to issues affecting students.
When a number of academic studies revealed that mobile phones were having a negative effect on pupil behaviour and academic achievement, the school carried out its own investigation.
Following a detailed consultation with staff, the school agreed to have phones locked away until the end of the academic day.
The strict new policy was put in place on day one of the new academic term and has been fully supported by parents, many of whom told they school were delighted by the the policy.
Mr O’Neill said the ban had also been welcomed by the majority of pupils who have quickly adapted to the new regime.
“The no phone ban has quickly become the new normal,” he said.
Mr O’Neill said implementing the new rule had been a learning curve for everyone at the school, but lessons have been learnt.
For example, it was important to make sure that everyone was onboard and supported the plan, including parents. He said it was also vital to issue clear rules and guidelines and make sure there are clear sanctions for rule breakers – and stick to them.
Morrison’s Academy had argued that pupils should be taught to embrace new devices and use them responsibly, to help prepare them for modern workplace environments.